Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A few days ago, Cindy Beall posted a recap of what the Lord has done in her life since her world fell apart 9 years ago. If you don't know her story, check it out here. (You can also check out her book, which will be on shelves soon.)

At the end of her post, she asked a simple question: What sort of amazing fruit have trials produced in your life?

I left a comment without thinking much about it. Then I went back to proofread my comment. Then I read it again. And again.

By my fourth time through it, I was crying as I realized how very good the Lord has been to me.

I whined and complained. I argued and bickered. I doubted His love, and I doubted His goodness. I asked him to save me from my circumstances. I bargained and begged. I didn't talk to Him for a while. Then I worked my tail off to "earn" the answer I wanted.

And he brought me to a place where I finally had to say, "I'd rather have you." Even if everything I believed about Him was a lie. Even if He wasn't good. Even if He only loved me a little bit. Even if I could never earn my way. Even if I would live in poverty and debt for the rest of my life. Even if my marriage and life was destined for mediocrity. I would still rather have Him.

And out of that moment - the moment when I realized He really is all that I have - He birthed a new desire. No longer all I have, He is truly and undeniably all I want.

See the comment I left on Cindy's blog below:

As Christians who attended (and volunteered at) church regularly, my husband and I had the same dream – to make a lot of money and retire early. We set about purchasing properties in our hometown, with the desire to either rent them or turn them over for profit. Right after we bought our second property, the economy went to pot, and we found ourselves $35k in debt (not including the mortgages) with very little income to live on.

That was when we finally turned to the Lord and said, “What do we do?” The Lord sent us to South Korea, where we taught English at a church and made less income than we had ever made in our lives.

He taught us to live on a budget, and to live a minimalist lifestyle. We realized that we didn’t need “stuff” in order to be happy. Actually, we realized the opposite. We learned that the “stuff” (and the financial burden that came with it) was preventing us from following God’s will for our life.

We have been back in the states for 13 months and, out of obedience to Christ, we are currently renting a small home, living TV- and Internet-Free, and using every extra penny to pay off our debt. We have never been more at peace, and we are looking forward to the day when all of our time and money can be dedicated 100% to the Kingdom (and not to our credit card bills).

I love love love that the Lord removes our support, leads us into the desert, and slays us with thirst – only to have us lean on Him, hide in His love, and drink of His goodness. (Hosea 2).

Thank you for sharing your life, Cindy, and for helping me remember what He has done in mine.


From Hosea 2...

She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them.

"Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body. So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands.

I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them.

I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of [Trouble] a door of hope. There she will respond (or sing) as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.

I will say to those called ‘Not my people’: ‘You are my people’;and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Boring Update or Two

First of all, I want to sincerely thank those of you who responded to my last post. I am reminded more and more every day that this Christian life isn't meant to be lived alone. What affects the part, affects the whole, and I am SO BLESSED to have such amazing women in my life who take time out of their own busy schedules to give advice and send encouragement across the miles.

I did delete that post, in case you're wondering. I mainly posted it as a way of asking for some much-needed advice, but I don't want it to cause any harm to anyone who may read my blog in the future. So I took it down.

Still, I very much appreciate those of you who read and prayed and commented. Your input meant more to me than words can say.

In other news, just a few updates today:

1. I have almost completed going through the girls' clothes. We went from 4 FULL laundry baskets to two (including towels and blankets). I have one last load to wash and sort before I take yet another run to Goodwill.

2. I plan to tackle the kitchen next. We have too many dishes, and the amount of time that we spend washing them is ridiculous. I plan to narrow us down to six dinner plates, six coffee mugs, six bowls, and that's it. I'll probably end up clearing out some mixing bowls and a few small appliances too.

3. I know this is a boring post... I'm bored writing it...

...But these small steps bring me closer to the lifestyle the Lord has called us to lead in this season of our lives.

Last night, I got home at 6:30pm. I put the girls to bed. I worked on organizing clothes until 10pm. And I went to bed. And I'm still not finished. And I probably won't be finished until this weekend. And then it will all start again on Monday.

All that time and energy put into things that don't matter - things that won't last.

Brandon and I covet our time. We want to invest in our children, in each other, in God's kingdom, in things that last and matter.

We don't want to waste our time arranging and rearranging things we don't need and things that don't last.

So, yes, we're in a boring phase. There is nothing fun or exciting about sorting through 12 pair of leggings and trying to figure out which three to keep.

But when we're done. When everything is combed through. When every area of our home is at maximum use with minimum maintenance. Then we can start talking about more important (and more exciting) things.

Until then, friends, I hope you're prepared for all the cliff-hanging, soul-searching, breath-taking excitement that can come from a mountain of laundry and a sink full of dishes.

2 Corinthians 5

1-5For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.

6-8That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood